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Important questions to ask when buying a home during the COVID-19 pandemic

Happy couple is taking keys from their new house from broker and smiling.

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly changed the face of real estate in many ways, especially with transactions going fully digital and investors being careful but optimistic. While it may be more challenging these days to buy a house in Ibis, it’s not impossible. In fact, the local market is doing much better now than when states reopened beginning May.

If you were among those who initially canceled or postponed plans to buy real estate for sale in West Palm Beach when the pandemic first hit, you may want to pick up where you left off. But before you do, here are some essential questions to ask:

Can I expect bargain prices for homes?

Right now, the real estate market is throbbing with activity almost everywhere in the country despite the ongoing health crisis. Buyers who stalled on their plans to buy homes last spring when COVID-19 first raised health risks are now competing with those who started their home-buying journey in subsequent seasons.

The spike in demand has been met with a sparse housing inventory – a consistent problem in many real estate hotspots even pre-pandemic. And with that, sale prices are now heavily contested. So, be prepared to enter bidding wars and witness offers that go over sellers’ asking price.

Can I still view a house personally?

Virtual open houses are still seen as a better recommendation by local health officials and Realtors these days. But should the agent feel that an in-person showing is merited, advises them to “develop a strategy to address the potential risks of in-person events.”

As the safer practice in this pandemic, most sellers will opt to show their houses via video calling apps like Zoom or FaceTime. Many of these virtual home tours are interactive, so you can ask questions on anything that piques your interest in real time.

Even before a virtual showing of the home you fancy goes live, you can prepare for it beforehand. Check out the home’s listings as these may now have 3D tours and video walkthroughs on top of the standard pictures of the property.

From a financial standpoint, does buying a house right now make sense?

If you’re eyeing West Palm Beach real estate, you’ll be in for a lot of competition here. People are no longer tethered to their offices with the shift to the work-from-home scheme – seen as the most viable business continuity strategy in this pandemic. Moneyed Americans are now moving to resort communities as these provide them with a more luxurious ambiance and wiggle room as they hunker down to work in their respective home offices.

Note, of course, that this is an opportunity not many have, considering the continued layoffs happening in many companies nationwide as a result of the pandemic-driven recession. If you can afford it, you can enjoy the fruits of your labor and see great returns come resale time.

Is a jumbo loan feasible for buying a home?

It is – if you find a lender who will grant it to you. Most lenders these days avoid offering jumbo loans as government agencies like Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac are unable to provide safeguards for this type of loan, thus making it very risky.

Nevertheless, if you enhance your lending institution radar, you may just be able to find one who can still offer this to you. Make sure you have all the documents to prove your capability to shoulder the responsibility of paying off this much higher loan.

How are closing processes now?

Florida has adopted the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act which considers electronic signatures as having the same legal weight as traditional handwritten ones. This applies to the processing of documents for real estate here.

There may be some documents for closing the deal on a house that may still require wet-ink signatures. In this case, only essential people (e.g., buyer, seller, buyer’s agent, and seller’s agent) can be physically present for this task. Moreover, safety protocols must be strictly followed.

What are “coronavirus clauses”?

In real estate agreements drafted during this pandemic, you will find an additional item – the coronavirus clause. This essentially states that if the pandemic directly impacts you, you are protected, regardless of whether you’re a seller or buyer.

Let’s say you’re in the middle of buying a house and got furloughed or retrenched by your employer because of the pandemic. Apart from shielding you from penalties, you may even be able to get back your down payment. According to the National Association of Realtors, the clause may also cover delays caused by the unavailability of inspectors or appraisers, the buyer’s inability to sign documents, or business and government closures.

To know about the average home price in West Palm Beach in this ongoing pandemic, as well as prime real estate in the area, get in touch with Eric Telchin and The Telchin Group. They are your go-to team of experts for Ibis Golf and Country Club real estate. Call them at 561.301.0249 or send an email to Eric(at)TheTelchinGroup(dotted)com.

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